Real life is more outrageous than `Dreamz'

Review C

April 21, 2006|By MICHAEL SRAGOW | MICHAEL SRAGOW,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Events have thoroughly outstripped the would-be outrageous new burlesque of politics and show biz, American Dreamz, in which a dunderheaded president (Dennis Quaid) wakes up after his re-election, decides to read a newspaper and gets so depressed that he doesn't leave his bedroom for three weeks. It's mildly amusing to see his chief of staff (Willem Dafoe), a lean and hungry version of Dick Cheney, dictating whatever his boss should say via a cuff-link transmitter to an earpiece.

But what's supposed to lift the movie beyond banal parody to wild satire is the chief of staff's attempt to raise the president's sagging poll numbers. He arranges a series of publicity events for this pooped-out president, culminating with his being a guest on the finale of an American Idol-like series, American Dreamz. Even before that apocalyptic appearance, the show's producer and star judge - here, there's only one, a Simon Cowell-like Hugh Grant - decides he's going all-out with bizarre contestants.

American Dreamz (Universal) Starring Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid and Mandy Moore. Directed by Paul Weitz. Rated PG-13. Time 103 minutes.

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